No LP martyrs

BY MARLEN V. RONQUILLO

THE surnames of the LP martyrs are, sadly, nowhere in the new government.

President Benigno Aquinoc 3rd has laid down the moral basis for governing. Integrity, compassion for the common man, the disavowal of things identified with power and the arrogance of power.

This, and the conduct of her immediate family especially the sisters, has resonated with the public. The polls, which gave him a stratospheric positive rating, had essentially validated what is the sense at ground level.

Now the question is this: Can the Aquino administration add something more to further prop up the high moral ground of his leadership? Nothing much at this point. Except the recruitment into his administration of people related/identified with the original Liberal Party (LP) martyrs. Two LP leaders who were assassinated just two years or so before Ninoy’s own martyrdom: Cesar Climaco and Jose Lingad.
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Water shortage, rice imports and ‘tongpat’

BY MARLEN V. RONQUILLO

Water shortage has been a national constant. In 1998, the water level at the major multipurpose dams dropped so low that the dams cut down by more than one half their water releases to rice farms. Over one million metric tons of rice had to be imported—the first time in our sorry rice-buying history that imports exceeded the one million mark.

The massive rice buying that ingloriously started in 1998 became the national template—well into the end of that century and into the new millennium. For the years 2009 to 2010, over 3.6 million metric tons had been imported, a reckless rice-ordering spree that some claimed had been driven by “commissions.” Continue reading

Too many Abads in government? In a swath of Lubao, people are celebrating

BY MARLEN V. RONQUILLO

The headline does not seem to wash, given what is common knowledge. Why would Lubao, the hometown of former President Arroyo, celebrate the rise to political prominence of the Abad family? It is public knowledge that Abads turned against the former president and Butch Abad was a cog of the Hyatt 10 Group.

While the opposition to the former president over the past few years came from several sectors, it was the opposition from the Hyatt 10 Group that was most relentless, dogged and sustained.

On the surface, you can’t really square off the two things: the political ascent of the Abads and celebration in a corner of Lubao over the Abads’ rise to prominence. But it is true. I am, in fact, part of the community that is celebrating the event. And this is the full story.
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Low-to-average expectations

BY MARLEN V. RONQUILLO

From their leaders, Filipinos have low-to-average expectations. We know why. Their leaders have been frustrating them from time immemorial. Worse, some leaders do not only fail to deliver on their promises. They screw them up. And they rob them blind.

President P-Noy will soon deliver his speech before the two chambers of Congress assembled with low-to-average expectations from the people. In fact, the Filipino Everyman is content with what he sees right now—a president who is impervious to the trappings of power. Should P-Noy decide to break tradition and manage to convince the manicured hordes (the lawmakers) to instead go to Luneta and mingle with the masa as he delivers his speech, so much the better.
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MMDA out of sync with P-Noy’s pro-people gestures

BY MARLEN V. RONQUILLO

The 40 richest Filipinos are worth more than $20 billion. Close to 40 percent of the population live below—or just barely above—the poverty line. There has been no time in the sad history of the country with this kind of economic gap. Yes, we know, the rich are different from you and me. But should we have a vast, seemingly unbridgeable chasm, for a gap?

The good news amid this story of brutal poverty is a leadership that tries very hard to make it up with the common man. No wang wang and beating the red lights for the convoy of P-Noy. No special treatment for her sisters at the airport immigration lines. While these gesture are merely symbolic, they resonate and resonate deeply. To the Filipino Everyman, used to a culture of impunity and recklessness, these gestures are heaven sent.
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To P-Noy and Alcala: The basics indeed but with revisions

BY MARLEN V. RONQUILLO

Filipinos generally agree with P-Noy’s focus on the basics, which he spelled out in his 20-minuter speech. A government agenda with a vast arch, in a context where funds are scarce and expectations for results are high and very urgent, is out of the question.

But the “ basics” should be the real thing: the most cost efficient, the ones that can produce real results.
Or, the game-changers, if you will. However, some of the specifics cited by PNoy in his inaugural are second priorities, not basic and urgent programs. These should be revised by a process of shifting and tinkering.
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My name is Bond . . . Diverted Bond

BY MARLEN V. RONQUILLO

The issuance of a state-guaranteed bond supposedly is, in theory, a very straightforward affair. The proceeds go to a worthwhile purpose. In most sophisticated economies, such issuances are routine. There is nothing about bond issuances that generates controversies. Almost always, the agenda behind the issuance is to fund a lofty investment need.

In this sense, the Philippines is a very special—rather sorry—country. Bond issuances are often tainted and played around with by shenanigans and crooks. On the PEACe bonds, two things are certain. Number one: A substantial percentage of the proceeds got waylaid and fell into the hands of crooked NGOs operating under a mask of nobility.
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On the yawning deficit, reject conventional wisdom

By Marlen V. Ronquillo

Our own  focus on the deficit, (the obsession with the deficit, rather), is not an uncommon thing. Across the globe, this is the same obsession. If you look at the points of agreement firmed up by the leaders of the G-20 countries, number one on the list is fighting deficits.
The US is resisting a bit. Its economic managers know the facts on the ground and fully realize that
without fiscal expansion through a second stimulus package, the US economy will be in for more shocks. But with a mid-term election coming in, the managers have to tame their expansionary rhetoric—the same caution which President Obama carried over into the G-20 summit. Continue reading